This post is sort of a footnote to my last one, which was dedicated in part to the notion that the corporate-crafted infantilization of U.S. politics was heavily evident during the long televised Hillary-Obama duel. In the process of doing a book on the 2008 campaign, I’ve created a little file collecting some of the best examples of this infantilization process, which is about turning engaged and responsible ctiizens into marginal and silly spectators so as to better reserve the big policy decisions to the corporate and imperial masters behind the scenes, who "know better" than the soft and childish populace what should be done in the realms of governance and public administration. Such are the ways of "managed democracy" in an age of creeping but accerlated "inverted totalitarianism."
Consistent with these reflections, the long drawn out media battle between Edwards, Obama and Hillary (just Obama and Hillary after Edwards’ departure in early February of 2008) in the first four months of 2008 developed across numerous developing and overlapping media soap operas that were heavily overlaid with questions of racial, ethnic and gender identity. The leading episodes – many directly fanned by the dominant media – included melodramas over:
? The Edwards campaign had once paid $400 for a haircut received by their candidate.
? The illness of Edwards’ wife and its alleged impact on his capacity to be president.
? Obama coldly telling Hillary that she was "likeable enough, during a New Hampshire debate.
? Hollywood mogul and campaign financier David Greffen saying that the Clinton ‘s were chronic liars and the Clinton campaign’s subsequent call for Obama to return money from Greffen
? Obama linking up with mega-celebrity Oprah Winfrey on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire .
? Hillary "tearing up" and thereby successfully showing something of her hidden female vulnerability just before her New Hampshire victory.
? The Obama campaign’s suggestion that Hillary had been racist when she said that it took the presidential leadership of Lyndon Baines Johnson, not just the inspiring rhetoric of Martin Luther King, to sign the Voting Rights Act into law.
? Obama advisor Samantha Power’s resignation from the campaign after being quoted calling Hillary "a monster" in a Scottish newspaper.
? Clinton’s campaign officer Geraldine Ferraro’s resignation after claiming that Obama would not have been in a position to win the Democratic nomination if he wasn’t a black man.
? Claims that Hillary lied when she claimed to have come under sniper fire in the Balkans as First Lady and that she misrepresented the details of the tragic Trina Bachtel case.
? High-profile endorsements of Obama by such political notables as Edward Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, and Bill Richardson.
? Recurrent reports of dissension within the Clinton campaign.
? Recurrent claims that Bill Clinton was upstaging his wife on the campaign trail.
? Claims that Obama had wanted to be president since he’d been five years old.
? Allegations about Obama’s friendship with Tony Rezko
? Discussion of Obama’s admitted youthful use of illegal drugs.
Here are some more recent additions (the above was done a while back:
? Hillary’s reference (in late May of 2008) to the 1968 assassination of Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy (RFK) while being interviewed by a local newspaper in South Dakota - taken by some Obama supporters to suggest a threat on their candidate’s life.
? Obama’s insensitive reference to a female Detroit television (WXYZ TV) reporter as "sweetie" in May of 2008.
Across the primary cycle, as usual, more substantive coverage of policy and ideology was trumped by the "horse race" — the constant obsession with who was winning in terms of votes, money, amnd campaign performance, etc.
We”ve got a great politcal culture over here in what U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson once (in a speech supporting George W. Bush’s right to attack Iraq) called "the beacon to the world of the way life should be."